Rebecca Breland was honored before the women’s tennis match on her senior day, as this weekend will mark her last matches as an Owl. In her second to last home match, Temple defeated Fairleigh Dickinson, 6-1.
In singles, the Owls used strong performances from freshmen Yana Khon (6-0, 6-1) and Alina Abdurakhimova (7-5, 6-0) to take control of the match against the Knights. Junior Minami Okajima (6-4, 6-3) and sophomore Dina Karina (2-6, 6-1, 10-6) also added points in tough matches.
In doubles, the Owls won two of the three matches to secure the doubles point. They won the third flight by a forfeit and the duo of freshman Monet Stuckey-Willis and Breland won with a score of 6-4 at the second flight.
“Alina got off to a slow start,” Mauro said. “We talked about how short her ball was landing and I told her to play a deeper ball. After she improved the depth of the ball, she won the next set 6-0. The majority of the girls struggled in the first set, but then they cruised in the second set.”
The men’s team also defeated Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday, 4-3. After losing the doubles point due to a sluggish start, the Owls won four of the six singles matches to win the match.
In singles, the Owls were led by junior Nicolas Paulus who cruised in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2. The Owls also received singles points from sophomores Vineet Naran (6-4, 6-3) and Filip Stipcic (6-4, 6-2). Freshman Stephen Ong won his sixth flight match with identical scores of 6-4, 6-4.
The Owls lost the doubles point by losing two of the three matches. Junior Santiago Canete and Naran won the only doubles match for Temple by winning easily with a score of 6-2.
“We started slow [Saturday] in doubles,” Paulus said. “If you lose the first point you lose the momentum especially in the conditions that we played in [Saturday]. Whoever gets the most confidence first usually ends up winning the match. Once you get behind it is hard to come back. Tennis is all about momentum.”
Paulus said that for the majority of the team, they perform better in singles because of their playing style.
Doubles has been a struggle for the Owls this season, and Paulus said that the team would work on doubles before the American Athletic Conference tournament begins next Thursday in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“Most of us are baseline players,” Paulus said. “For the most part the majority of us finish from the back and not that much at the net. To improve our doubles play, we need to finish better at the net.”
The Owls will ride a three-match win streak into the conference tournament. As a team, Temple has the confidence to make it out of the first round this season after being bounced by No. 39 Louisville last year.
The Owls will open the tournament on April 16 against an opponent to be determined.
“We have played some good matches during the last five weeks,” Paulus said. “To be able to improve our chances we need to win the doubles point more. We need to stay in our rhythm and be confident. Nobody in the team should be afraid to o into the conference tournament.”
Dalton Balthaser can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @DaltonBalthaser.